Lessons for Practice: Instructional Design Strategies from Engineering Education

By Schmidt, Kathy J. | Distance Learning, May 1, 2005 | Go to article overview

Lessons for Practice: Instructional Design Strategies from Engineering Education


Schmidt, Kathy J., Distance Learning


Due to a number of challenges, such as the emergence of a global economy, changing student demographics, current science on how people learn, low numbers of engineering graduates, and improved instructional technologies, engineering education is under scrutiny across the country. In the United States, only 5% of undergraduates earn engineering degrees. Conversely, China's current group of engineering undergraduates represents 40% of all graduates. Is this a trend we can positively address by enhancing our engineering education practices, or do we need to find ways to reach potential students with alternative delivery methods such as distance learning? Even if we do increase our numbers of graduates, will the marketplace be ready for them? While there are numerous efforts underway to help prepare students in the lower grades for the pipeline into higher education in engineering, science, or technology, I will address two of the challenges mentioned above (science of learning and instructional technologies) and how they can influence change in engineering education.

Why should the United States Distance Learning Association and its members have interest in specifics about engineering education? Are there parallels to be drawn from a discipline-specific approach, or are there instructional issues relevant across the disciplines that are applicable to distance learning professionals? While there are "signature pedagogies" used to deliver engineering instruction (Schulman, 2005), engineering professors who employ instructional design strategies and base classroom activities on student outcomes are following the basic tenets of quality instruction. This commentary will not delve into specifics of engineering instruction such as design or laboratory classes, but will instead look at how the science of learning and instructional technologies are influencing engineering education practices.

Although engineering is a scientific discipline that is built on the study of scientific principles and methodology, it is really driven by the application of science to address the needs of society. This practical approach to knowledge can be seen in how engineering professors want to assess change in their classes and because they are theory-based thinkers; they review the scientific findings on pedagogy before they incorporate such practices into their teaching. Given that engineers use a systems approach, they are at least open to instructional design and a systematic approach to instruction. The use of a systematic approach to instruction provides a framework to analyze course components and methodology as well as the ability to complement pedagogical practice with technological capabilities.

Many view an engineering class as one in which a professor lectures (a chalk talk) and works derivations on the board while students dutifully take notes. This type of engineering class does exist, but take a look at the Journal of Engineering Education to see what trends and empirical evidence exist that promote more active learning environments. Colleges of engineering across the nation now support their own engineering teaching centers where learning scientists, instructional designers, and media specialists are readily available to help create instruction that meet the needs of today's students.

Many of these centers promote pedagogy based on the National Academy of Sciences book How People Learn (HPL) (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000) and its practical findings. Often, situational factors and lack of awareness of the research prevents any practical applications. While it is not easy to translate educational research into classroom practice, this is happening with HPL. Implementing research-based approaches requires well-designed curriculum, and often face-to-face instruction involves a fair amount of spontaneity. For example, the VaNTH (www.vanth.org) National Science Foundation funded effort has educators and engineers across multiple institutions working with industry to develop curricula and technologies to educate future bioengineers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Lessons for Practice: Instructional Design Strategies from Engineering Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.